Thursday, May 17, 2007

Excellent Newsweek article on Taiwan's Democracy

The recent issue of Newsweek offers a wonderful article by Jonathan Adams on the island's democracy that avoids all the usual Chinese propaganda themes and instead offers a pretty positive look at my adopted home.

South Korea isn't the only democratic success story in Asia these days. The competition isn't just coming from Japan; it's Taiwan, rarely recognized as an independent state, that's making some of the best progress. Since holding its first free presidential elections in 1996, Taiwan has most often been associated with the fistfights that occasionally break out in its fractious legislature. But under the surface, the island has been quietly fortifying its political system. Recent surveys by the research group Asian Barometer rank Taiwan third, after Japan and South Korea, on support for liberal democratic values such as civilian rule and an independent judiciary. And its citizens support free speech more strongly than those of any other surveyed country.

In some ways it is almost too positive -- it lauds the judiciary for being more independent than it actually is. But it ends with a powerful I've made many times:

Democratic consolidation doesn't make for as good TV as public brawling, of course. Thanks in part to the island's freewheeling media, Taiwan's legislative meltdowns still dominate the limelight. But while political life here may look chaotic, in the ways that matter it's growing more stable all the time.

Yup. Good work on that one.


Chihwei Tsao said...

I really like the pictures on this website!

Angry Taiwanese Guy said...

Nice, but it seems the Newsweek link leads nowhere. Fix? I really would love to finally read a positive article on Taiwan without the China angle.

Anonymous said...

Mabe I don't really understand the issue, but how is switching from multi-member legislative districts to single-member ones in the interests of pluralism?

Michael Turton said...

It's not in the interests of pluralism, but in the interests of a stable government. I don't like that trade off either, I think they need to get rid of the at-large members and triple the size of the legislature, at least.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply. I was starting to think that I was really stupid. I agree with you. I don't see what this halving the legislature is going to do. If half the legislators are double as corrupt, you haven't accomplished anything.